Pink slime, the ammonia-treated meat by-product making its way into our ground beef, continues to haunt our hungry nation.
Although the maker of this “product,” Beef Products Inc., has now suspended three of the four plant operations, we're still thinking twice before indulging in our favorite fast food burgers. Until this slimy controversy goes away, here are five pink-slime-free burgers for your fast food fix.
1. McDonald’sAs of late last August, McDonald’s confirmed that it is no longer using pink slime in its burgers. In a statement on its website, Todd Bacon, the senior director of quality systems, wrote:
"At the beginning of 2011, we made a decision to discontinue the use of ammonia-treated beef in our hamburgers. This product has been out of our supply chain since August of last year. This decision was a result of our efforts to align our global standards for how we source beef around the world."
While we’re unsure about the other ingredients (or chemicals) you’ll put into your body if you visit the Golden Arches, at least you can be confident you aren’t consuming pink slime.
- Least bad-for-you option: Hamburger, 250 calories, 9 grams of fat, 3.5 grams of saturated fat, 31 grams of carbohydrates, 12 grams of protein
Their plain hamburger with a regular bun, ketchup, mustard, pickles and onions totals out to only 250 calories. This is quite low compared to their 540-calorie Big Mac.
2. Burger KingFortunately for consumers, the fast food giant has reportedly joined McDonald’s in abandoning the ammonium-treated beef trimmings.
- Least bad-for-you option: Hamburger, 260 calories, 10 grams of fat, 4 grams of saturated fat, 27 grams of carbohydrates, 13 grams of protein
Ringing in at less than 300 calories, this flame-broiled patty on a sesame-seed bun includes pickles, ketchup and mustard. Add some lettuce, tomato and onion for only 10 calories more and you’ve got yourself a delicious burger. But make sure to pass on the mayo — adding this topping puts on an extra 160 calories.
3. Wendy’sAlthough they don’t refer to the product as “pink slime,” Wendy’s states directly on their website that their beef is "100 percent pure beef from North American raised cattle, has no fillers, no additives, no flavor boosters and no ammonia treatments."
- Least bad-for-you option: Cheesy Cheddarburger, 300 calories, 15 grams of fat, 7 grams of saturated fat, 24 grams of carbohydrates, 18 grams of protein
Based on its abundance of cheese, you wouldn’t think a Cheesy Cheddarburger from Wendy's would be one of the healthier burger options on the menu, but it’s only 300 calories. Topped with one slice of American cheese and a delicious cheddar cheese sauce, it’s pretty tasty. Add on some lettuce, tomatoes and pickles for only 10 more calories.
4. Jack in the BoxJack in the Box is another fast food chain that claims to have ended the use of pink-slime-infected beef and states on their website, “We only use 100 percent pure beef in our hamburgers.”
- Least bad-for-you option: Hamburger Deluxe with no mayo-onion sauce, 281 calories, 10 grams of fat, 4 grams of saturated fat, 33 grams of carbohydrates, 13 grams of protein
Although Jack in the Box's mayo-onion sauce is delicious, subtracting this 44-calorie topping puts their Hamburger Deluxe on our list. Low in saturated fat compared to other fast food options, this burger choice is one of the healthier sandwich options on their menu.
5. Chick-fil-AIf you really want to avoid the pink slime saga, stick to fast food joints such as Chick-fil-A. Although you can’t get a beef burger here, you can safely indulge in anything on the menu, like one of their health-friendly chicken burgers, knowing it’s not packed with any pink slime condiments.
- Least bad-for-you option: Chick-fil-A Chargrilled Chicken Sandwich, 290 calories, 4 grams of fat, 1 gram of saturated fat, 36 grams of carbohydrates, 29 grams of protein
Although you won't find any beef at this fast food joint, you can safely enjoy a chicken burger that will leave you guilt-free and slime-free.